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The system has been out for awhile. What was once new hotness is now yesterday's headlines. The system has built up a great library, but everybody already has the best games. You've dropped the price, but maybe the next generation is starting to horn in on your sales. What's a video game company to do?

Easy: Send the console in for some reconstructive surgery -- keep the functionality, but repackage it into a slick new design.

In order to move aging product and take advantage of late adopters whose primary concern is price over all else, as well as advancements in manufacturing, it's a common practice to put out a new version of its old products, especially video game consoles (which are half the size, fix any technical issues that arose with the original design, and costs half as much to manufacture as the original) three to five years after launch.

Thus the company gets those late adopters who want to dive into a huge established library without paying the sometimes-exorbitant prices of a brand new console. On the other hand, they run the risk of alienating those fans who bought the old version six months before the spiffy new model came out.

Not just limited to consoles, Product Facelifts can happen to many other kinds of goods like cars and toys, often for similar reasons.

Examples of Product Facelift include:


  • Nintendo is well known for their console redesigns. It possibly invented the practice in its modern form with its late-life redesign of the SNES, and raised it to an art form with the Game Boy (Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light [Japan], Game Boy Color), the Game Boy Advance (GBA SP, GBA Micro), and the Nintendo DS (DS Lite, DSi) -- not to mention the conversion of the NES from a toaster to a console with dog bone controllers.
    • The DS systems are a rather bizarre form of this- first, the DS was released, then it was updated to the DS Lite, which was a smaller version of the same thing. Then came the DSi, which was about the same size as the DS Lite but with different features- and finally the DSi XL, which is a larger version of the DSi. So, is bigger better or not?
  • Sony released slim versions of the PlayStation 1 & 2, with the new version of the Playstation (rechristened PSone) being so small that, with a portable LCD screen add-on, it makes for a decent portable system.
    • In Japan, the Play Station 2 also got a 'media hub' makeover as the PSX.
    • After 2 months as the industry's worst-kept secret, the slimmer, cheaper PlayStation 3 has been officially announced.
  • The PSP was redesigned as the PSP Slim & Lite, gaining a better screen and TV-Out capability along with losing some weight. A second revision has been announced, the main changes apparently being a better analog stick and a microphone for Skype.
    • And now, PSP Go, which removed the UMD slot, making it the first portable console that does not use physical games.
      • After a couple years of lackluster sales, PSP Go was finally discontinued in 2011, and Sony is concentrating its mobile gaming effort on the lucrative cellphone market. Sony-Ericsson alliance has recently announced a couple of PSP-compatible, Android-based Experia models.
  • The Sega Megadrive/Genesis went through more versions than any other console, according to The Other Wiki (and miniaturised ones are still being released today). Its Sega Mega CD add-on also went through one, which somehow effectively doubled its size.
    • Consoles were often more upgradable and PC-like in the '80s. An example of this was Sega's earlier Master System, which was really just the latest iteration of their first multi-game console, the SG-1000.
      • And the Master System itself had three versions, similar to the NES. The first two were ordinary consoles; the third was portable, retitled Game Gear, and it coexisted with the Genesis as a Daddy System.
      • Cartridge ports were in most cases a direct connection to the console's main bus, not unlike various PCs expansion slots, and were widely used as such. Aforementioned Master System was in fact a major inspiration for the Coleco Adam and MSX home-PCs, the latter of which used its cartridge ports as expansion slots by design.
  • Although their aesthetics remain mostly the same, both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 have been released with numerous different configurations, mostly revolving around hard drive size. The PlayStation 3 models also have varying levels of backwards compatibility, memory card slots and USB ports.
  • Non-videogame example: this is common practice in the automotive industry, where cars will have their appearances "refreshed" every few years. Many cars (the Ford Mustang, the VW Beetle) have gone over a decade on the same platform, having their body work periodically updated.
    • Sometimes this works in reverse to the console version. For example, the VW Golf has got progressively larger over the years. According to some, this is deliberate: the idea is that someone fond of the Golf brand started out in The Eighties with a small cheap fun hatchback, then every five years as they grow more prosperous and settle down they can keep buying the new Golf but every time it's bigger, more family-friendly and more sensible. In turn, VW releases new smaller cars to replace the older Golf as the first-adopter option, such as the Polo and Lupo.
    • In a direct aversion of the trope, Lada 2107, first introduced in 1982, is still produced[1] with essentially zero external changes, despite quite a few internal tweaks, like a completely new engine lineup, for example. Ironically, 2107 is itself a restyle of a 1979 Lada 2105, which was a deluxe version of Lada 2101, a Soviet license-built copy of Fiat-124.

Notes

  1. Due to its virtue of being dirt cheap. It is the car's sole redeeming quality, though.

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